United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division
HUNTERIA B. NELSON, Plaintiff,
WASHINGTON COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION, Defendant.
KATHERINE P. NELSON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
pending before this Court is Defendant, Washington County
Board of Education's (“Board” or
“Defendant”), Motion for Summary Judgment and
Brief in Support thereof with exhibits, under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 56(c). (Docs. 36, 37, and 38 respectively).
The parties have consented to jurisdiction by Magistrate
Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and Fed.R.Civ.P.
73. (Doc. 20). Plaintiff has filed a response to the motion
(Doc. 47) to which Defendant has replied (Doc. 44).
The undersigned additionally granted Plaintiff leave to file
a Sur-Reply (Doc 46-1) and the same has been considered for
purposes of this order. After careful consideration of the
record, Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment as to all
counts of Plaintiffs Amended Complaint
(“Complaint”) is granted pursuant to Rule 56(c)
as there are no genuine issues of material fact for a jury to
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
March, 2015, Plaintiff, an African American female, applied
for the vacant position of Curriculum Assessment/Federal
Programs Coordinator (“Coordinator”) for the
Washington County School System. (Doc. 18 at 2; Doc. 37 at
1). On or about April, 23, 2015, Plaintiff was informed that
she was not selected to fill the vacancy. (Doc. 18 at 3).
Instead, the Board unanimously approved Betty Brackin
(“Brackin”) for the Coordinator position
following the recommendation of the Superintendent, Tim
Savage (“Savage”), a white male. (Id.)
Plaintiff timely filed a charge of race discrimination with
the Equal Opportunity Commission against the Board and
subsequently received a Notice of Right to Sue. (Doc. 18 at
4; Doc. 36 at 1).
time of her hiring, Brackin had just received her Class A,
Instructional Leadership Certificate, the minimum requirement
for the Coordinator vacancy. (Doc. 18 at 4). At the time
Plaintiff was rejected for the position, she had held her
Class A Educational Administrator Certificate for nine years,
held a doctorate in Educational Leadership (since 2010), had
a J.D. from Loyola University School of Law in New Orleans,
Louisiana, had been a licensed attorney in the State of
Alabama since 2000, and had sixteen years of work at various
levels in the Alabama Public School System. (Id.)
Plaintiff additionally had administrative experience as an
Administrative Intern (assistant Principal) at Booker T.
Washington Middle School, Site Supervisor for summer school
at Denton Middle School, which serves as the site for all
failing students for the Mobile County Public School System,
and was Mathematics Department Chair and Saturday School
Administrator for Pillans Middle School in Mobile, County.
asserts that unlike Brackin, (1) Plaintiff's
administrative experience was acquired after the completion
of her administrative certification, (2) Plaintiff was not
given an administrative “edge” by working in
positions without the necessary qualification, and (3) that
Plaintiff's qualifications far exceed those of Brackin.
(Id. at 3-4). As a result, Plaintiff contends she
was denied the position for Coordinator based on race.
(Id. at 4). Plaintiff further asserts that she was
denied a second job opportunity of Principal of Washington
County High School in retaliation for her pending EEOC charge
of racial discrimination. (Id.)
filed this action against the Board on December 29, 2015,
“pursuant to the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of
1964, and 42 U.S.C. Sections 1981, as both have been amended,
and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th
Amendment to the United States Constitution made actionable
by 42 U.S.C. Section 1983.” (Doc. 1 at 1). On March 18,
2016, the Board filed an Answer (Doc. 8) and a Motion for
More Definite Statement seeking clarification for, among
other things, Plaintiff's alleged retaliation claim,
Count III. (Doc. 7). On April 4, 2016, Plaintiff responded to
the Board's Motion clarifying that with regard to the
retaliation claims the Complaint “should state
“Plaintiff was also denied a second vacancy that became
available during the EEOC investigation of Plaintiff's
initial charge of discrimination. Plaintiff contends that the
second denial was in retaliation for her initial complaint of
race discrimination.” (Doc. 15 at 1). Plaintiff further
stated as follows:
The retaliation claims are brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
Sections 1981, made actionable by 42 U.S.C. Sections 1983,
Count III, and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment of the United States Constitution, which is Count I
of the Complaint.
There is a Title VII retaliation claim pending at the EEOC
due to Plaintiff being rejected for the position of Principal
at Washington County High School, which Plaintiff expects to
add by amendment once a Notice of Rights is received on that
Charge, bearing number 425-2016-00201. However, at this
point, there is no Title VII retaliation claim mentioned in
the Complaint in this case, and there is no obligation on
Plaintiff's part to submit a Notice of Rights for a claim
that is not in her Complaint.
(Doc. 15 at 2). Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint
(“Complaint”) on April 7, 2016. (Doc. 18). With
regard to the retaliation claim, the Amended Complaint
included the clarified language stated above and, again,
asserted Plaintiff was retaliated against in Count III. (Doc.
18 at 4). On January 30, 2017, Defendant filed the present
Motion for Summary Judgment as to all Counts of
Plaintiff's Complaint. (Doc. 36). Plaintiff responded on
March 7, 2017 (Doc. 42), Defendant has replied (Doc. 44) and
Plaintiff has filed a Second Corrected Response (Doc. 47) and
a Sur-Reply (Doc. 46-1). Defendant's motion is now ripe.
court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). “An issue of fact is
‘material' if it might affect the outcome of the
suit under governing law and it is ‘genuine' if the
evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the nonmoving party.” Ave. CLO Fund,
Ltd. v. Bank of Am., N.A., 723 F.3d 1287, 1294 (11th
Cir. 2013) (quotations omitted). “Summary judgment is
only appropriate if a case is ‘so one- sided that one
party must prevail as a matter of law.' ” Quigg
v. Thomas Cty. Sch. Dist., 814 F.3d 1227, 1235 (11th
Cir. 2016) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986)) (citation omitted). However, a
“ ‘mere scintilla' of evidence is
insufficient; the non-moving party must produce substantial
evidence in order to defeat a motion for summary
judgment.” Garczynski v. Bradshaw, 573 F.3d
1158, 1165 (11th Cir. 2009) (per curiam). In other words,
“there must be enough of a showing that the jury could
reasonably find for that party … Where the record
taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to
find for the non-moving party, there is no genuine issue for
trial.” Allen v. Tyson Foods, Inc., 121 F.3d
642, 646 (11th Cir. 1997) (quotations omitted).
are required to view the facts and draw reasonable inferences
in the light most favorable to the party opposing the summary
judgment motion.” Jackson v. West, 787 F.3d
1345, 1352 (11th Cir. 2015) (quoting Scott v.
Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378 (2007) (alteration adopted)
(quotations omitted)). See also Allen, 121 F.3d 642,
646 (11th Cir. 1997) (“The evidence of the non-movant
is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be
drawn in his favor.” (quotations omitted)). “The
Court ‘must avoid weighing conflicting evidence or
making credibility determinations.' ” Ave. CLO
Fund, 723 F.3d at 1294 (quoting Stewart v. Booker T.
Washington Ins., 232 F.3d 844, 848 (11th Cir. 2000)).